Monday, February 18, 2008

Conservation Burial: A Win-Win For People and Environment

In our-ever evolving quest to treat our earth and environment more gently, there have been some awesome and some not-so-awesome discoveries and changes. I happily stumbled upon what I hope will become a trend of the not-so-distant future.

Dr. Billy Campbell and his wife, Kimberly, respect the circle of life in all things and have found a way to back up their convictions with action. Their idea is conservation burial. The Campbells have purchased a nature preserve near Westminster, South Carolina that is being utilized as a "green" burial ground for people interested in being laid to rest sans embalming, metal caskets, or vaults.

At Ramsey Creek Preserve and also at the Campbell's second conservation burial area near Atlanta, there are no fancy headstones, no mausoleum's, no containers full of dying or plastic flowers. People are buried there in simple wooden caskets, or shrouds, or in their street clothes--any manner they wish that uses biodegradable material--and their burial sites are marked with stone indigenous to the area with simple, chiseled writing or may remain unmarked if so chosen. Those who have been cremated may have their ashes scattered there, or their receptacles placed there.

"There" is a beautifully wooded area with running streams and wildlife. As the bodies decompose, they feed back to the earth, just as our ancestors did not all that long ago. But Ramsey Creek Preserve is not really about death at all, but much more about the circle of life. There is a simple pine-boarded chapel for funeral services. There are plans to build an observation tower so that visitors can view the wetlands area.

I cannot do justice here to fully describe this concept of conservation burial, but I hope that I have whet your interest or curiousity enough that you'll click on the title of this post to go to the Campbell's website to learn more about Memorial Ecosystems. In addition, here's a link to Natural Burial's site:


  1. Tom,

    Thank you for stopping by and for your comment. It's rewarding to know the information piqued your curiosity.

    I found the information quite by accident, watching The Weather Channel. Here's the link to that, if you'd care to check it out as well:

    L. L. Woodard

  2. I think this is a wonderful idea. I recently had the "what to do if I die" conversation with my parents. My mother is a Catholic, so finding out that I would much rather be cremated was not music to her ears.

    I believe we honor those we love that have passed in our memories; not in how expensive and glorified they are buried in the ground.

    The circle of life is wonderful. Why would we really want to take away a better earth for our children so we can place our decomposing body in an unpenetrable box? Are we afraid a bug is going to get us? I don't get it.

  3. When I think of the resources squandered on a fancy coffin and a vault, not to mention the money, I just have to shake my head.

    In terms of spirituality, people have many different views about what happens when we die, but my feeling is that when the shell that has been my body expires, the part that was really "me"--namely my soul--will leave the shell as well.

  4. Natural Burial Around the World

    The modern concept of natural burial began in the UK in 1993 and has since spread across the globe. According the Centre for Natural Burial, there are now several hundred natural burial grounds in the United Kingdom and half a dozen sites across the USA, with others planned in Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and even China.

    A natural burial allows you to use your funeral as a conservation tool to create, restore and protect urban green spaces.

    The Centre for Natural Burial provides comprehensive resources supporting the development of natural burial and detailed information about natural burial sites around the world. With the Natural Burial Co-operative newsletter you can stay up-to-date with the latest developments in the rapidly growing trend of natural burial including, announcements of new and proposed natural burial sites, book reviews, interviews, stories and feature articles.

    The Centre for Natural Burial

  5. Deb and Earthartist,

    Thank you for stopping by and leaving your comments.

    Deb - I agree with you; I am not concerned with what happens to my body after death.

    Earthartist - Thanks for the information and the link. I'd like to do what I can to spread the information/concept. I suspect there are many people out there who would be interested if they only knew of its existence.